And welcome to the part where I tell you more about myself than you could
possibly want to know! I'm a children's writer and poet, writing
everything from picture-books for the littlest of littlies through to
novels for young adults.
These days, I live near the ocean, in
Fremantle, Western Australia, but I'm a relative newcomer to the coast.
I grew up in Bendigo, in central Victoria, and spent my childhood
running wild through mullock heaps, striking it rich at least once a
week on a vein of fool's gold. I grew up in a TV-free
household, and was
of those bookish kids, in love with words, excited by dictionaries
and spelling bees. Luckily, I was also fairly sporty, and so was
able to avoid being punched in the nose too frequently.
Iíve always loved books, Iím not one of those people who always wanted
to be a writer. Like most kids, I wrote stories at school,
though, and I entered a few competitions. The judges had this to say about my
"Although quite imaginative, the story was
overly long and lacked a clear focus."
"Although the story was intriguing, the
vocabulary seemed rather unusual for
"Although well-written, this was not really
I was unfocused, chose odd words, and had no idea what a story
was. Clearly, I was never going to be a writer.
I had no idea what I wanted to be.
When I was in primary school, I thought it would be fun to be a teacher,
mostly so I could
make satisfying little ticks in ball-point pen on large stacks of paper.
In high-school, I spent a year on exchange in Japan,
and everyone told me how useful Japanese
would be, that I could become a Japanese-speaking lawyer or accountant,
or business executive. But I didnít care about any of those things. What
I really liked was standing over an inkwell with a horsehair brush, making tiny, deft strokes onto rice paper,
and tasting the way the unfamiliar sounds crackled on my
I just loved language for its own sake, and didn't really care where it
might take me, as long as it didn't involve business suits or high
Somehow, I resisted the urge to study economics
or law, and enrolled
in Arts, majoring in Literature and Japanese. I figured that would buy
me a few more years of reading and talking about books, and I was
convinced that if I just followed what I love, something would turn up.
Luckily, it did. Along the way, Iíve had
all sorts of interesting jobs, including swimming teacher,
translator, and Japanese-speaking tour guide, but eventually I settled down at the
University of Western Australia, where I've taught everything from Australian Literature and Creative
Writing to Japanese Studies.
Somewhere in there, I started writing. I
began with poetry, and had a few things published here and there. Then I
moved on to novels, and began collecting rejection slips. Like my early
rejections, these tended to feature the word Ďalthoughí, which I
firmly believe should be banned. I gathered a large folder of
rejections, but I also got some encouraging feedback, which motivated me to keep going.
I love writing for children, and find it
disturbingly easy to slip into the skin of my childhood self. The Russian
writer, Dostoevsky, once said that the best education for a writer is a
single, glowing memory of childhood. I am fortunate enough to have a
marvellous storehouse of these, which are happily proving much more
useful to me than high heels and business suits! Now, I'm just waiting
to see where the words take me next. I hope you enjoy reading the books
as much I enjoy writing them.